Black Cross – Widows Bloody Widows

Black Cross
Widows Bloody Widows

I distinctly remember the first time I ever heard a hardcore band from Louisville, KY. I was in high school, and I was a big fan of the San Diego hardcore scene that has been home to bands like Swing Kids, Antioch Arrow, Crimson Curse, and The Locust. I couldn’t believe that people were actually into listening to bands like Endpoint and By the Grace of God. It was really slow and churning and very different from the hardcore bands I liked. The vocals were all strained yelling instead of actual screaming, and it just seemed like more of the same jock-metal crap that was coming out of the New York hardcore scene. I still hate 90% of the hardcore that is being produced today; most of it is unoriginal or boring if not both. I am not trying to sound like some jaded asshole or anything but after being involved in a scene that doesn’t favor much change for close to 10 years, it gets tiring. Hearing the same metal-influenced hardcore over and over again (you know the kind that goes: technical metal guitar intro, gruff screaming, E-chord chug part, emo breakdown with shitty, whiny vocals, and then the “killer” mosh part at the end) just gets overbearing.

Black Cross is a hardcore band from Louisville, KY made up of ex-members of By the Grace of God and National Acrobat. It used to be called Black Widows, but I think there might have been another band with that name already. When I saw this record in my promo pack, I immediately thought, “Oh no, this is going to be terrible.” Fortunately I was wrong on that assumption. Black Cross, while still not being my cup of tea exactly, is a million times better than the bands its members made up. The metal parts are gone in place of an urgency that is reminiscent of Damaged-era Black Flag, a bit of noise a la The Jesus Lizard, and some heartfelt sincerity.

Widows Bloody Widows is not a new record by Black Cross, but a compilation of early singles and EPs that were released when the band was called Black Widows. I was impressed by the fact that Jason Loewenstein from Sebadoh actually produced the first two songs on here, “Roll Up Your Sleeves” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” The first title’s indication is that the band is rolling up its sleeves before letting loose an onslaught of steamroller guitar parts and bloody-lipped lyrics.

Only giving Loewenstein credit for the production here would be a complete disservice to the rest of the compilation because it sounds great too. J. Robbins’ capable hands are all over “House of Light,” and Brendan Gamble did most of the remaining tracks.

With only 12 songs on the compilation, it can go by pretty fast as most of the songs are played at breakneck speed with considerable intensity. You won’t even know what hit you by the time “It Gets Dark So Early” comes around and “Peking Dub” finishes the record. You’ll be pressing repeat before you realize it. Other bands from the Louisville scene should be taking notes from Black Cross and shooting themselves in the foot for not being daring enough to do something this good before now.